The Haughs of Indianapolis, part 2

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This is the conclusion of a two-part research dive into the Haughs of Indianapolis. (Part 1)

THE AFTERMATH

Following reports Marguerite is suffering from “a nervous and a mental breakdown,” a sanity inquest is suggested to see if she is fit to stand trial. The judge grants the divorce in Guy’s favor, and dismisses Marguerite’s claim. Judgement on custody of their two children is delayed as the court awaits the facts of the shooting attempt.

In jail since the events of that Friday night, Marguerite is visited by friends and receives gifts of fruit and ice cream, as well as further bedding for her cell. She’s described by prison matrons as a “most entertaining prisoner.”

Released on $2,500 bond, paid by her friend, Mrs. Ovid Butler Jameson, she is attended overnight by Dr. Amelia Keller, who says she poses no threat to herself or her children. Eventually, she’s bound over to the grand jury, meaning her case is transferred up to a higher court for the jury trial.

“[Marguerite’s] romantic marriage to an Indianapolis merchant was the first act in a career of divers and sundry episodes both comic and distressing. She has now been put in local hospital for an operation which is expected to restore her enfeebled nervous system. Mrs. Haugh is the recipient of many attentions from her many friends, who have stood by her in this as well as her other troubles.”

“Fresh Trouble Falls on Woman of Local Romance,” May 25, 1919, Indianapolis Star

THE SHOOTING TRIAL

Another twist. I know, another—but, believe me, with this case, they just keep coming.

On June 6, it’s ruled neither Guy nor Marguerite get custody of the boys. Instead, two Indianapolis residents, Dr. Amelia Keller (of before) and Mrs. Otto Keller, will take them.

Marguerite is indicted on charges of assault and battery with intent to kill. She pleads not guilty. After months recovering in hospital, another twist:

In January 1920, Marguerite brings new evidence. She claims Guy hit her over the head with a snow shovel in January 1918, causing “serious injuries and a nervous shock.” She asked to be awarded $25,000 in damages.

The trial, including hearing of new evidence, is set for Feb. 2. The day comes, and goes. And Guy doesn’t show.

He’s given a week to appear in court. It’s vital he be there—he’s the star witness, after all.

In March, he appears, ready to testify, claiming he was out of town.

Originally set to be a jury trial, a last-minute motion by the defense is granted—the jury is dismissed. The case will instead be under the sole judgement of Judge Collins.

April 2. Readers wait with bated breath. The decision is announced. Headlines scream:

Reporters, and no doubt their readers, too, are surprised, and spare no emotions in ridiculing the prosecution.

How could this happen? There were multiple witnesses to the event, there was a gun, Marguerite turned herself in to police.

The key lies in that gun, and in the strange series of events that predicated the announcement.

Months ago, Guy approached police and requested the revolver allegedly used by Marguerite in the attempted shooting. Police comply and hand over the gun. It’s unclear why they did this, or why Guy asked for it in the first place.

Guy then apparently takes a trip to Chicago—likely the reason he failed to show at the earlier February court date—and reportedly takes the gun with him.

He then leaves it in his hotel room.

As the prosecution is unable to present their key piece of evidence—the revolver—the judge rules to dismiss the case. 

I can’t speak for you, but when I first read that, my reaction was: Huh? Is that possible? How could that even happen? Isn’t-didn’t-huh?

The prosecution protests, probably as I currently am, but the judge upholds his decision.

According to the court, the inability of the prosecution to present the gun and the other cartridges “precluded absolute proof that Haugh had been fired at with such a weapon, loaded as the indictment charged.”

Marguerite’s attorneys held, as she has a constitutional right to be presented with both the charges and evidence against her, and the case’s key witness was responsible for its disappearance, no case could be made.

The Haughs reportedly said their goodbyes as Marguerite left the courtroom.

THE CUSTODY BATTLE

So…that’s got to be the end of it, right?

Wrong.

The judge denies pleas and rules neither parent is fit for custody. They are removed from the care of the two volunteer Indianapolis residents, and placed in the Indianapolis Orphans’ Asylum. Petitions are filed by those aforementioned volunteers and by Marguerite, to adjust the custody order and allow the children to remain in their parents’ care.

Then, on April 30, the boys go missing.

Wants Divorce Decree Modified. Mrs. Marguerite Haugh Files Petition in Court, Asking Custody of Her Children. Hearing is Set for May 14. No Trace Has Been Found of J. Guy Haugh, Who Took Children From Asylum Last Friday.
from Daily Republican (Rushville, IN), May 3, 1920

They were last seen at the Asylum. Guy reportedly arrived in the afternoon, claiming to want to take the boys out for a walk. He never returned.

There is no mention of Haugh, Marguerite, or their sons until September 1920.

What, did you think I was joking earlier about the kidnapping?

Marguerite’s earlier suit, calling for $25,000 damages following an alleged snow shovel attack, is dismissed. Marguerite had failed to answer Guy’s answer to her suit.

I know, all this legalese takes a second to wrap one’s head around. Don’t worry: it just gets worse.

There are months of argument over jurisdiction.

The judge who granted the divorce in Guy’s favor was Judge Sparks of Rushville—and remember, that was already following two venue changes, from Marion County to Hancock County to Rush County.

Sparks appointed Special Judge Solon Carter of Indianapolis to handle the custody matter. Guy protested the appointment, and was overruled. Marguerite also protested, and her motion was granted—the case was transferred into the hands of Decatur circuit judge John Craig.

Guy again protested, claiming Marguerite had exhausted her rights to change judges and venues. He argued the divorce and custody cases were one in the same, and the venue changes of the first should roll over. He also holds that the judge who granted the divorce, Sparks, has absolute authority in granting custody.

“This matter has been in court several months, during which time Judge Sparks surrendered the case to Solon J. Carter of Indianapolis, and the latter giving it to the Decatur circuit judge [Craig].”

“Case Dismissed, Evidence Lacking,” May 9, 1921, Rushville Republican

Ultimately, the case is heard in Rush County circuit court.

With their two sons in attendance (there they are, see, they’re fine), Marguerite and Guy meet in the courtroom to decide on the custody agreement. Each presumably pleads their case.

I say “presumably” because that’s the best I can do.

A settlement is reached that day in court, June 27. The details are not made public.

Despite on-and-off coverage for two years and the appearance of public interest, there’s no more mention of the Haugh divorce or custody battle through the end of 1921.

I suppose that makes sense—the boys are young, this is a private matter. Even though…the rest of their dirty laundry has been aired in…a very public way. I know it’s a bit of an anticlimactic ending. Believe me, I spent nearly 10 straight hours researching this. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t disappointed.

THE END

So that’s the end of it, right? Well, it’s the end of the divorce and custody battle.

There were a few threads I glossed over because this was long enough as it is—I didn’t talk about the child support back-and-forth, the embezzlement charges, the take-over of Haugh’s clothier business, or the $20,000 worth of jewels in a Buffalo bank.

The Haughs, before this case, were active in Indianapolis social circles, and likely continued to be after. We know Guy remained in Indianapolis, while Marguerite moved away and was reportedly employed as a French teacher.

But the thing about historical research is you have to stop somewhere. I spent nearly two full days dedicated to this three-year period, and still couldn’t cover everything.

And the point of the Quick Research Dive is that it’s just that—quick. So, for now, I’m done with the Haughs.

Because I would absolutely lose my mind if I kept digging into this.

I know this was a longer write-up than usual, so I’d love to hear any feedback.

If you want to be pointed to any articles I used, or have any questions, want me to do a follow-up piece and try to find out what happened to the boys (can’t make any promises on that one), send them my way via the Contact page or via email at rea.jottednotes@gmail.com.

Title Card Credit: Background: Monument Circle, 1907, Detroit Photographic Company / Public domain; Left: J. Guy Haugh, from “Hotel Monthly” vol. 30, issues 346-357 (1922), pg. 42; Right: Marguerite Haugh, from the Indianapolis Star, May 25, 1919

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